Little Lessons: Learning to love extravagantly

A friend gave me a pack of Love Dare cards not long after I got married. From time to time, I refer to it for little reminders on how to be more loving and thoughtful to my hubby.

This particular one has got me thinking this past week about how I can love more extravagantly. Something extraordinary, and that goes beyond our normal routine.

love dare

Extravagant love need not come with a hefty price tag. But it’s often big on thoughtfulness, effort and sometimes creativity.

It could mean walking malls in search of that out-of-stock briefcase.

It could mean rounding up a few of her friends to help plan that surprise birthday party.

It could mean going all out to have that much needed we-time at your special favorite cafe or restaurant.

It could mean reminding her to schedule some rest and relaxation time while you take over child-minding duties on a Saturday afternoon.

It could mean learning to cook his all-time favourite dish.

It could mean that we stop complaining and starting our sentences with, “You always…” or “You never…”

Post-children, it’s easy to lavishly love our children, and to scrimp a little on our spouse. They take centre-stage and the spouse gets the leftovers. Why is this so?

It’s easy to take each other for granted, to lapse into a comfortable all-is-well mode. But this love dare card reminds me to push the envelope, and to think of new ways to show my appreciation and love for the hubby.

It also reminds me of the origin of love. That God is love, and that He abounds in love towards us.

I pray this weekend you will discover that love knows no boundaries. May thinking of new ways to love become part and parcel of the way we do family.

This is Little Lessons #27. Grab our badge and link up your little lessons / reflections below!

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Weekend wishes and musings on marriage

“Marriage is not simply the luck of the draw, or something that we get involved in which just unfolds before us like a long movie. Good marriage, like good individual lives or good art, are conscious creations. They are made.” – Kevin and Marilyn Ryan

I’ve been thinking about marriage and relationships lately. More specifically, on how much intentional effort and time it takes to achieve a deep understanding of each other, and to grow in intimacy and trust.

I confess that with three little ones, it’s easy to let the kids take over and steal the show. (And to let marriage subtly slide into second place.) Because their voices are so loud and their needs so immediate, everything about them comes first.

But what’s urgent may not always coincide with what’s important. And marriage is one of those things that can easily be shoved to a corner, while we’re busy fighting fires or changing poopy diapers.

I need to remember to place my marriage as priority, and to place my husband as priority. It comes second to none, except perhaps our personal relationship with God.

The weekends are usually busy and full of different activities, commitments.  But I pray that this weekend, you’ll make time to savour some sweet moments with your spouse, recollect some good memories perhaps, or even a funny incident. Hold hands, even as the little ones tug at your shirt. Share with him what’s been on your heart. Be ready to listen too.

Be humble, quick to forgive, and slow to anger.

Have a sweet and loving weekend, friends.

3 awesome ways to reconnect with your spouse

3 awesome ways to reconnect

I’ve been talking about self-care lately, and one of the things on my heart is to really invest time and energy into my marriage.

What’s marriage got to do with self-care? Well, a woman’s heart is all about relationships, and the marriage relationship is a key one to nurture. It’s always easy to lose track, to be caught up with our work or family obligations, or just busy giving face-time to our gadgets and screens rather than each other.

So here are 3 of our favourite activities that I’ve found helps to set the mood for reconnection to happen. (The best part? You don’t need to spend a bomb on anything.)

1. Couple mask night

Ahem, confession time. The hubby and I enjoy putting on masks together. It’s silly I know, but also very therapeutic.

We haven’t been able to do it as regularly as we like to, and only recently got started on it again. During the half hour or so, we just lie in bed with our masks on, and talk and talk and talk.

If you’ve never tried it, you might want to give it a go. it’s a great opportunity to reconnect (maybe cos we’re just stuck with each other for an entire 30 minutes) amidst all the busyness.

And for us ladies, we also get to moisturise the skin at the same time. So win-win. ;)

2. Go on a jog-date

I’m not a running type of person but I can manage a jog-walk. The hubby is gracious enough to slow down to my humble pace and just enjoy the evening air and scenery as we jog down the park. We talk about anything and everything, mostly about his work, and also the kids. Sometimes I share my worries and sometimes about my dreams.

Something about the air and the adrenaline helps to get blood pumping into my brain and I always feel a sense of clarity after the exercise.

I never thought I’d manage (much less enjoy) talking while running but I’ve managed to surprise myself. At the end of the run, we reward ourselves with some yummy hawker favourites like prawn noodles and bbq chicken wings. Or pig out on pizza from an Italian joint nearby.

It always feels good to work out together, so I hope to keep this up regularly (that means 2-3 times a month).

3. Have a device-free night

I must admit there’s always some inertia and even sweaty palms whenever I plan for this. I worry about what if I miss out on some major news break in the world, or on some important message from my Whatsapp / Facebook chat threads. (Yes, the gadget lifestyle has made us all a little paranoid about our social worlds. This has also made me realise how much a victim of “the urgent” I have become.)

The last weekend, I tried to have a device-free night (meaning mobile phone, laptop, and ipad are all switched off or on airplane mode from 7-12 midnight), but the hubby unfortunately had to get some work done, so we had to postpone it.

I think for such a night to be counted as fruitful and restful, it should feature some fun – maybe a movie or cooking something together, some sharing or planning (thinking about the future), and some quiet reflection (reading a book or the bible, and then sharing what you learnt).

So this is still on my list, and I plan to do it at least once a month.

I guess what you guys do doesn’t matter as much as how you intentionally set aside time and space to connect with your spouse.

Now it’s your turn…What’s your favourite way to reconnect? 

30 ways to love your wife (Singapore edition)

As follow up to the post on 30 ways to love your husband, here is the wife version. I had lots of fun writing this post (almost wanted to go on and on!) and I hope you hubbies get some ideas here as well. ;)

30 ways to love your wife

1) Develop great listening skills. When she needs to share something with you, set aside time for her, and just try to listen and not offer quick-fix solutions.

2) Save your eyes only for her.

3) Make time to date her, pursue her, make her feel valued and cherished.

4) Surprise her with flowers and chocolate (Awfully Chocolate cake or an earl grey chocolate tart from Five and Dime might do the trick too). Sweet surprises always work, any day of the year.

5) In family squabbles, always stand on her side of the fence.

6) Take over child-minding duties when she’s on the brink of losing it. Ask her to head out for some fresh air or a cup of tea or just catch a nap.

7) When she asks you what’s on your mind, don’t say “nothing”. (Making something up may work better than saying nothing.)

8) Bring her shopping and when she finds something that she really likes, give her your real opinions gently. Even if she gets upset with you, she’ll appreciate your honesty later.

9) Make an effort to get to know her girlfriends.

10) Put down the phone and talk to her. Or better yet, institute a mobile-free date night once a fortnight.

11) Send her cute love messages occasionally on weekdays.

12) Don’t cringe or say no when she asks you to buy sanitary pads for her. This is part of her womanhood, embrace it.

13) Help out in the house. Cook or clean something. Men who happily change diapers/wash dishes/hang the clothes to dry are known to be very very sexy.

14) Set a calendar reminder so you know when it’s the time of the month. Then be extra loving and patient, and stock up on chocolate in the fridge without her asking.

15) Pray for her. Make time to read God’s word together.

16) Remember she is a woman, and she needs to be loved, and constantly reminded of your love. (Mornings are a good time to do this.)

17) When you initiate sex, and she’s not feeling up to it, don’t make her feel guilty. Say “it’s really okay, we’ll try tomorrow” and give her a hug and kiss instead.

18) For each time you offer her a constructive criticism or feedback, affirm her for something that she’s done well too.

19) When she gives you the daily report on how the kids were, try to be attentive and interested, even if you’re tired.

20) Give grace when she fails. Don’t rub salt in her wound when she’s already feeling remorseful about something she’s done. You can give her ideas on how to do something better when you know she’s ready to listen.

21) Be patient with her. Give her time to grow into her role (as wife or mother of X number of kids) and rise up to new challenges.

22) Choose family time over hanging-out-with-the-boys time. (Occasionally is good. Often, even better.)

23) Understand her love language. If it’s words of affirmation, give her ample loving and kind words whenever you find a chance to.

24) Write her love notes. Hide them in her handbag. Or use them to wrap a chocolate and hide it in her handbag.

25) If you’re leaving town, pack an activity bag filled with old toys or a new puzzle / game for the kids, and include a token amount of shopping money for her too.

26) Wake her up with a lovingly prepared breakfast in bed. (Think pancakes with chocolate sauce and ice-cream, or a simple french toast.)

27) Allow her to sleep in on a Saturday morning while you bring the kids out for breakfast.

28) Support her when she shares another one of her crazy, whirlwind ideas with you. Or at least listen to it and give her ideas to develop further too.

29) When she wakes up, remind her of how beautiful and precious she is to you.

30) Buy her a thoughtful gift to mark special occasions. (Check out Hipvan, Asos, Pupsik Studio, Zalora, or Blessings & Co)

Let’s listen to what other mums have to say…

I feel loved when my husband makes the effort to protect our family time together by choosing us over other commitments, especially when he sacrifices personal recreation or time with friends to be with us. I also feel cared for when he initiates to help me with the kids or offers to baby sit so I can get some me time! Words of affirmation and appreciation are also soothing to the soul but these days acts of service cut it better ;) – Eeleen

I feel most loved when he loves God and shares God’s word with me. – Ruth

My husband’s a bit like Jiminy Cricket. He tells me when I’ve been unkind, when he feels that something I’ve written lacks punch, or when a photo I’ve taken is just so-so. I’m not ecstatic to receive the feedback, but I appreciate that there is one person in my life that I can count on for an honest, unedited opinion. And even if I don’t agree with him, taking a step back to re-examine my actions or my work has usually meant that something better comes out of it. – Evelyn, The Bottomsup Blog

I love it when he spends time playing with the kids – seeing them laugh and play together is so heartwarming and better than any present he could buy me. Also it’s nice that the kids are distracted for a bit and not always clamouring for mummy all the time. – Edlyn, MummyEd

1. Giving me a break from Noah to have some me-time 2. Surprising me with my favorite dessert 3. Watching my favourite shows with me – Adeline, Growing with the Tans

I love it when he looks after the boys when they wake up at ungodly hours of 5-6am, letting me snooze while he gets them bathed and settled their breakfast. I love it when he quietly tops up the car cash card and petrol for the week, knowing these things rarely occur to me . I love it whenever he gives me a kiss on the forehead before he leaves for work. – Dorothea, A Pancake Princess

30 ways to love your husband (Singapore edition)

I got the idea for this post when the other day, I bought my hubby his favourite teh si siu dai (tea with evaporated milk, less sugar). I knew he had had a rough morning with the kids and was feeling tired. His eyes perked up when I handed him the drink at the door and he melted into a happy boy smile. It was then I knew that it only takes a small act of thoughtfulness to let our loved ones know that they are loved.

If you have an idea to contribute, do leave us a comment!

30 ways to love your husband

~~~~~~

1) Consciously try not to nag. If you really need his help with something, WhatsApp him or add it to his wunderlist or evernote.

2) Surprise him with his favourite teh-si or kopi siu-dai when he’s had a hard day.

3) Buy him his favourite chicken rice or mee pok when he’s hungry. Better still, learn to cook these at home.

4) Open the envelopes of his mail and place contents in a neat pile for him to go through.

5) Buy him a tee that says “Best daddy. Ever.”

6) Make time for sex and intimacy. This is very important. ‘Nuff said.

7) Don’t criticise him when you notice he’s doing things wrongly while taking care of baby. Give him clear instructions as to how to improve, and affirm him for helping out.

8) When you need help with something, don’t bark your orders at him. Begin with something like this, “honey, I know you’re busy but can you help me with X, Y, Z?” and end with “you’re the best, sweetie.” or “what would I do without you?” Of course, mean what you say…

9) Buy him his favourite bottle of wine. Better yet, make time to enjoy a glass together.

10) Go easy on your credit cards for a month.

11) Plan an adventure or holiday you know he’s always wanted to have.

12) Don’t laugh at his grammar mistakes on a daily basis.

13) Laugh at his jokes (even when no one else does, or even when it’s not sooo funny.)

14) Have clear instructions written down for everything, including how to make/warm baby’s milk, how to give medication if the kids are ill, etc etc. So you avoid potential areas of miscommunication. (It may come naturally for you, but recognise that he may struggle with such little details.)

15) Give lots of verbal and non-verbal affirmation. Try not to criticise. Period.

16) Do everything within your means to support his dreams and career choices.

17) Help him with little things when he’s busy, such as collating his taxi receipts for claims at work, and sticking them onto paper for scanning and filing.

18) Keep your shared work-spaces neat and tidy.

19) Show appreciation when he makes the effort to tidy up the house.

20) Give him time and space to cool off after an argument. Don’t force him if he can’t talk or resolve the conflict immediately.

21) Don’t force him to talk when he doesn’t want to. If there’s an important matter to discuss, schedule it at a good time, and give him a heads-up.

22) Be all ears when he wants to talk (since this doesn’t usually happen very often…)

23) RESPECT him as head of the household. Don’t contradict him in front of the kids, or other people for that matter.

24) Take his criticisms well and make an effort to improve on the areas that he points out.

25) Teach him to communicate in a way that makes you feel loved and cherished. (This is win-win, right?)

26) Make an effort to look good. Be happy and grateful.

27) Offer grace and forgiveness even if he doesn’t deserve it.

28) Discuss important matters with him before making a decision, especially those that affect him and the family.

29) Ask him how you can love him better, then do what he says. (You can’t go wrong with this approach!)

30) Focus on his strengths, affirm them. Weaknesses? Give him ideas on how to improve.

I asked some male friends and the other-halves of fellow blogger mums to contribute to today’s topic. Here’s what they had to say:

“I like it when she shows me respect as the head of the household. On a more personal level, I love it when she shows me physical affection (ie hugs, or even hand holding) when we are in public.” – E-gene

“Do something out of the ordinary together, like learn ballroom dancing with me.” – David, husband to blogger mum Angeline

“To be supported and appreciated for what I’m naturally good at.” – singer songwriter Andy Philip

“Know when I try too.” – Roboman, husband to Corsage

“Follow the plan.” – Mel

“Put the kids somewhere so we can go out for a movie on our own.” – D, husband to blogger mum mummybean

“Wake up at 4am and go exercising with me” – Matthew, husband to blogger mum (and board game enthusiast) Pamela

“Put down the phone and talk to me.” – Gabriel (oops, I think we’re all guilty of this one.)

What’s your husband’s favourite way for you to show more love to him? Go on and ask, it’s your turn now. ;)

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